The Strelka Effect | The Plan
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The Strelka Effect

How to portray an organization that is constantly changing and adding appendages? What does it mean to be simultaneously non-profit and commercial, utopian and practical, Russian and international? How does architecture define an entity designed for the digital age?
In titling this essay The Strelka Effect, I am attempting to do something that I assume to be impossible - namely, to capture and define the cumulative effects of an institution that is multi-faceted and programmatically unstable, an entity that is unique within its city and which inhabits a range of social gradations - from high to low, small scale to large, frivolous to serious… To further complicate things, this entity is not confined to Moscow; it has, since its inception, worked to constantly expand its boundaries, to extend itself beyond Russia via a network of advisors, collaborators, and conspirators that stretches across a dozen different time zones and disciplines. How to define such as phenomenon? How to articulate its aspirations and to measure its effects?
First, the basics: What is Strelka? At its most basic, the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design is an academic institution. Its administrators often refer to Strelka simply as a school, populated mostly by students and teachers. Calling Strelka a school seems to make it easier to quantify the Institute’s effects and maybe even judge its quality, since there are systems already in place for assessing academies and judging their influence. The controversial, popular university ranking systems - such as Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Shanghai Rankings, etc. - that influence millions of students and parents each year have developed means for quantifying and qualitatively assessing schools. The systems attempt to apply seemingly objective information - on the average salary of a graduate, on the number of citations that a particular professor’s paper receives, on the number of...

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